Unguarded & Undiscovered

by Kathleen

My mom’s waiting in the glass-walled library because I asked her here. But now I’m embarrassed, ready to run and hide.

My mom’s not embarrassing, not at all. It’s me. Half way through my first semester at college, I wake up screaming. Meanwhile, my roommate cries all the time.

Last night I dreamed that surgery-gone-wrong had attached my organs outside my body. The lower intestine? Disgusting. I had to wind it up like a hose and duct tape it to my hip. I heard sniffling and scratching and woke up to find Monique crouched naked, surrounded by empty candy wrappers and gobbling up another Cadbury bar, cream oozing out.

Through the glass doors, I see my mom talking to Robert Peterson, who dresses like a banker. He also uses an unlit pipe for a prop. It’s impossible to fit in here. People prize their own superiority so much that the social atmosphere stinks of five thousand geniuses stacked on totem poles.

My mom has gotten Robert to laugh for real. I’ve only seen him fake-laugh. It’s getting dark and the rain hits in horizontal sheets. I better go in, before she makes Robert laugh again. She hurries over to hug me, not caring that my clothes are soaked.

Shit, did I really push my hand in her face? Like: “Halt!” She doesn’t care; she’s touching my shoulders and saying how much she loves me and I’m shrinking back, gritting my teeth. “Quit talking. People can hear.”

We stay at a “Bed and Breakfast,” meaning someone’s house, which creeps me out, but anything’s better than the dorm. Without my roommate weeping and eating, I sleep late. My mom’s already dressed and reading The New Yorker.

“They left out muffins and coffee for you.”

“I’ll eat later. Whoa! It really felt good to sleep.”

It’s stopped raining and the fog is chest high. I ask her if we can walk back. “Before I have to reconfigure myself into that capsule.”

She smiles her sympathetic smile. “That bad?”

It’s great to be outside. We trudge along hills swathed in fog—no distinct sun in the sky, just this thin, tight light. My mom says she’ll remember this, the trees dripping and sighing in the cold, fresh, highly condensed air.

“We could be walking back a hundred years,” she says, “or ahead.”

“We could end up anywhere.”

And then my mom says the perfect thing. She says, “What if we end up someplace we can only find in our minds? When we’re off guard.”

Wouldn’t that be sweet? My mom and I wandering off somewhere unguarded, and until then, undiscovered.


Stella said...

I really like the way you use images. I'm just sorry these are only single segments. (/hint)

theamateurbookblogger said...

What is the graphic of that accompanies this lovely piece? It is intriguing.

kathleenmaher said...

Stella: Thank you. It's always nice to hear a reader's interested in more. I'm already writing two serials on my own blog. Writing these snapshots (under 500 words) is an experiment. In real life, I'm anything but terse.

Bookblogger: The graphic further pushed my limitations, I'm afraid. I tried making a collage of me hiking so that one silhouette looked like the mother and another like the daughter--what a mess! So, clock ticking, I doubled myself inside an empty tree, added fog, a few filters, and hoped to suggest the mood.

Stella said...

I know and I've made a note to start reading them. I want to start properly at the beginning though, and I haven't had time yet. *pout*

kathleenmaher said...

Stella, I'd be honored if you read my serials; I'm honored anytime anyone does. And starting at the beginning? Fabulous! You don't need to read more than one post at a time, though. Or, if you find they're so complicated that, in fact, you do; that to follow the story requires more than stealing a few minutes here and there, let me know. Blog fiction can't work that way. No one has that much time.

Stella said...

I have to start at the beginning so it'll take me a while to catch up, but that's a good thing - it means I won't be starved until you release a new installment ;)

kathleenmaher said...

Stella, Now that's a sweet image--being hungry for words!

Stella said...

I assume banging my fork against the desk would be overkill?

kathleenmaher said...

Bang your fork, Stella. It gives me delusions of grandeur.

Stella said...


(Oooh oww my wrist ohh...)

kathleenmaher said...

Sorry about your wrist. I courtesy to you. Next time, maybe, flick your Bic.

Dan Leo said...

Like a couple of pages from an excellent novel.

kathleenmaher said...

Dan, You read me too well. An old notebook of mine offered some of this.